Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Pub Caroling 'sessions' in December

What: Song, food, beer, and fun people, in a pub! Not Irish, but sounds like a hoot-n-a-half! Where: Paddy’s Pub, Bank Street When: December 7th, 14th and 21st, 4 - 5:30 pm How: show up, grab a songbook and a cold drink, and find a seat in your vocal section. I will be hosting, so it’s my job to make sure people know the four parts and stay on track. It’s unaccompanied, but you’re usually about 10-20 people per part, so you can allow yourself to be carried along by the tidal wave of singing around you. Many of the carols will be unfamiliar (they are mostly old English carols), but we will try and incorporate some more well-known ones, particularly if there are kiddies in the room. After the fun is over, people are welcome to stay and have a meal. Official advertisement HERE (Scroll down and look for the painting of all the people with their mouths open.) Hope to see you there! Ellen M.

Monday, 10 November 2008

"Stealthy" Tony McManus plays Ottawa - November 15

I have only just learned that Celtic guitarist extraordinaire Tony McManus is playing Ottawa at the first Baptist Church, 140 Laurier Ave W., 8PM, Saturday Nov 15, 2008. The show is being promoted by and the Ottawa Folklore Centre. It's not uncommon for me to miss the odd happening (after all, I can't surf every promotor, sponsor, venue, artist schedule), but a certain very well known local Ottawa guitarist in the traditional music circle didn't know either (and he has Tony's email!). Such a stealthy approach would make my cat jealous! I've wanted to see Tony play live for a couple years now, and I won't get to go as this is very short notice and I have a previous commitment - friend's first, music second. So much for my 'circle of spies' out there! Please go see Tony if you can, and tell him I said 'hello' (he'll look at you funny, since I don't know him, but g'awn anyway).

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Danu and You!

Yes!! Danu is coming to Ottawa Dec 10 at the National Irish Canadian Cultural Centre! You should all know by now that is the former St. Brigid's church near the market. While this is mostly old news (at least a week or two old), I thought I had better mention it on the ol' blog. The Gaelic Hour's Austin Comerton is bringing in this 'powerhouse' of Irish traditional music and song for a Christmas concert. I have long wanted to see Danu. Their musicianship is inspiring. If I understand correctly they played Ottawa prior to my renewed interest in Irish trad., and I've been kicking myself for missing any Irish gig in Ottawa since 1999 to 2006. Visit the Gaelic Hour webpage for details on this fine concert that must not be missed. Please support these traditional gigs, it supports the artists and encourages more gigs!

Monday, 15 September 2008

The Ottawa Celtic Choir

An email from Ellen MacIssac (15 Sept 2008): Herewith the news regarding the Ottawa Celtic Choir. We are now a stand-alone entity. The choir's new home is at St. John the Evangelist Church, on the corner of Elgin and Somerset. Rehearsals are still on Tuesday evenings, from 7pm until 9pm in the chapel. We're extremely lucky to have scored this space - it's a wood paneled chapel with high ceilings, fantastic acoustics and a baby grand! The first rehearsal of the season will be next Tuesday, September 9th, 2008. When you arrive at St. John's, come in the door that opens onto Somerset street, not the big front doors on Elgin. I'll have unlocked the church, and will be there to direct you to the chapel, if need be. Waiting for you will be a Choirster's Guide and a music pack, with all the music we'll be rehearsing over the year. Logistics: Although the church has no parking lot of its own, there's lots of parking in the streets around Elgin street. There's also a municipal parking lot very nearby. There are a lot of buses going down Elgin, so getting there by public transportation shouldn't be a problem. For those who aren't clear on the details, this is a non-auditioned community choir, which sings the songs of the Celtic nations and the Celtic diaspora, in both English and in various Celtic languages. So, we sing songs in Irish, Scots, Welsh, Manx, etc., as well as in English. We sing songs from the west coast of Europe and the east coast of Canada. We sing in unison and in up to four parts. We sing both accompanied and unaccompanied songs. We will be doing performances this year, so I will be working a specific number of pieces up to performance levels. Although I distribute sheet music, reading it is NOT a prerequisite to joining the choir, nor is speaking one of the Celtic languages. All that gets explained during rehearsals. Please don't hesitate to contact me for more information. You can also ring me at 613-552-3964 if you prefer communication by telephone. Here's looking forward to an awesome year, and I hope to see you next Tuesday! All the best, Ellen (Updated in 2011: ellen at laughingbrook dot ca)

Teada - Ottawa Workshop Information

Email from Matt Pepin (15 Sept 2008): The Irish Canadian Cultural Centre ("St-Brigid's"), located at the corner of St. Patrick and Cumberland St, booked the Irish traditional group Teada in Monday (Sept 22nd), but due to a conflicting gig involving Oisin MacDiarmada (fiddle), they have had to re-schedule (date unknown). However, the rest of the band will be coming for the evening and are hoping to do some workshops. I was wondering if you could help put out the word. These lads are WONDERFUL players and are well worth sitting with for a hour and a half! DETAILS: -$25 for any one workshop -6pm start divided into two 45 mins with a quick break -Some type of recording device STRONGLY recommended!! -Since they aren't around very long, there will be one group for every workshop, which means that the guys will try to teach at the most popular proficiency level. --end-- Téada are: Oisín Mac Diarmada - fiddle (not appearing) Paul Finn - button accordion (last indicated not appearing) Damien Stenson - flutes Seán Mc Elwain - bouzouki/guitar Tristan Rosenstock - bodhrán Tommy Martin - uilleann pipes (now appearing for workshop) For what it's worth, I've been listening to Teada for a few years now, and these guys are incredible musicians, playing straight-ahead traditional Irish music to the highest standards with very tasteful ornamentation and a wonderfully broad selection of traditional tune types. No doubt the workshops would be well worth attending! For more info on Teada: Craig

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Irish music legend Ronnie Drew (1935-2008)

After a long illness with throat cancer, Ronnie Drew, a legend of Irish folk music has passed away. In my own view there was never an Irish rebel song sung as well as by Ronnie. Ronnie could really awaken your spirit with his energy and enthusiasm, and storytelling through song. You could hear him smile, or grin, as he sung the humourous classics. Many a long drive were shortened listening to the Dubliners with Ronnie at the helm. A real class act and we'll all miss him. You can read the RTE release here. R.I.P. Ronnie Drew.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Multi Open-Stage event on Saturday, September 20, 2008

I just received an email from Dan Baker. Please read it, it is included it below. Here's hoping the Irish/Celtic traditional musicians can muster a group together for a "Blazing Session" at Daniel O'Connell's Pub! Contact Dan at the phone number below as soon as possible to help him coordinate. Dan's email: Your contribution to Blaze-Aid last year helped us raise close to $5000.00 for the Somerset Booth fire victims. Now we are looking at raising funds for the Rochester Heights kids and a community centre for them and I would like to know if you would be interested in joining together again for a really worthy cause. We are planning a multi Open-Stage event on Saturday, September 20, 2008 from 1:00pm to 7:00pm and so far we have the following venues: The Carleton Tavern, The Elmdale House, Daniel O’Connell’s Pub. I am looking into getting more pubs involved (suggestions would be welcome!) and there will be door-prizes, fifty-fifty draws and all that wonderful stuff that we had last year. Without all of you, we couldn’t have done it last year and without you we can’t do it this year. Please let me know if you can get involved for this one (we need hosts, players, volunteers, etc) and send this e-mail out to friends, family, strangers, whatever it takes to help us make this the biggest one yet! Again, it was because of all of you that last year was so successful. Let’s show ‘em what our local musicians can do!! I hope to hear from you soon, Dan Baker 613-796-2017 P.S. Here’s the scoop on the folks we are helping: The Rochester Heights Community House is a supervised community house where children can go for activities; help with school, community projects and learning. Similar community houses have shown that this service aids not only in building strong communities, but giving children and teens positive influences and support where and when it’s needed. Somerset West Community Health Centre were instrumental in getting the City of Ottawa to fund the location however, funds are needed to purchase supplies, renovate the house for accessibility and ensure the best programs are available for the kids.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Irish Music Ottawa's First Year!

Where'd the time go? Already it has been a year since I quietly launched the not-for-profit Irish Music Ottawa website. Over time the hit counter has gone up in dribs and drabs, and occasional bursts of activity, such as after the Paddy Keenan concert in March. In total, the 'IMO' web page has had approximately 8500 hits as of it's 1st Anniversary. So much has happened in the year. There have been may festivals, workshops, and concerts, plus a fairly active and geographically healthy scene of local Irish/'Celtic' traditional music sessions. Somehow, Irish Music Ottawa, managed to host a house concert with the renowned Gearoid O hAllmhurain and Ian Clarke, and then the legend himself, Paddy Keenan. Both shows broke even, and I am left with the awkward question of what, or who next? Lend me your suggestions. Over the year I have met or interacted with many of you, and I can say that it is a great way to meet very talented and interesting people from a wide variety of backgrounds. I have always liked that about music - something which brings people together with a common interest. One of my few regrets is not updating this blog often enough, though I was counting on more submissions from 'readers' like you, because I'm not really sure I know enough to entertain, or educate, any of you so often. Hint hint, got something to say, please let me know, and I'll get it posted on the blog! On the personal side, I have not been able to concentrate as much on my whistle playing as much as I would have liked, due to work and personal commitments, but I have recently purchased a respectably good flute, and so trust that I have not given up! On a final note (like D, say...), Irish Music Ottawa is only what YOU make it. I just maintain the page. I do not have a crystal ball. If there is an upcoming event you know about, please let me know at the contact email, and I will strive to get it posted at my earliest convenience for the good of all. One it tells me people are using the site, and two it means more people have access to the information and can support Irish (and related) traditional music in the region. Thank you very much for supporting Irish Music Ottawa. Craig

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Paddy Keenan Concert Wrap-up

Friday March 7 was the culmination of a small dream I had to see and hear Paddy Keenan, the legendary Uilleann piper, play a concert in Ottawa. After playing with a spreadsheet and talking with his agent I decided to back the concert myself, accepting the possibility of a loss, but hoping for at least a break-even venture, according to my spreadsheet ‘crystal ball.’ Thus, last Friday, 166 people gathered at the First Unitarian Congregation on Clearly Ave, Ottawa, to see a live performance by Paddy Keenan (pipes, whistles) and John Walsh (guitar, vocals). Everybody braved the weather which was dumping yet another 4 to 6 inches of snow on a beleaguered Ottawa. Notable before the first set was a mass of snow and ice which rumbled off the roof of the musicians lounge like a freight train! Soon after the audience was treated to great sound by Greg T. Brown, one of Ottawa’s finest traditional musicians, and of course a superb performance by Paddy and John, playing two major sets with a 20 minute intermission in the middle. We were dazzled by Paddy’s virtuosity on a variety of hornpipes and reels, his more relaxed pace on jigs, and the very moving slow airs that separate mere show-offs with true masters. John Walsh sang an original composition, and the pair played an original instrumental, also by John, which according to feedback, aided in many CD sales. In the second set local musicians Alistair Dennett (bodhran) and Don Kavanagh (harmonica) sat in with the main duo. Paddy was very pleased Alistair ‘stuck to the script’ of keeping the beat with no embellishment for the slow tune, and also remarked on the microphone that Don was the best harmonica player he ever heard (this comment was repeated over the breakfast table, as well), two well known brothers in Dublin coming a close second. On Saturday afternoon five workshop attendees gathered at my house in Nepean for a Paddy Keenan workshop. By this time the weather was starting to turn quite nasty. Paddy was very gracious and allowed anybody who wanted to, to strap on his pipes, and give them a go! Paddy was pleasant and patient with everybody, no matter what their level of playing was. It was such a relaxed and fun afternoon, it easily went an hour longer than planned. When the workshop ended, some people left, and invited others started to arrive for a house session. The weather, sadly, got horrendous, and this meant some invitees did not make the session. But some did! We were treated to some of Ottawa’s finest traditional musicians in the living room, around the fire, among the candles, the place was just rocking!! The session ended with an impromptu joke-telling session which was quite hilarious. By the end of the session Paddy had turned to simply listening to the locals play. He said the next morning it was seriously one of the best sessions he’d been to in a long time. He was quite sincere about it. On a personal note, I have to say that both Paddy and John were tremendous house guests. They are both wonderful people and are lot of fun, willing to share their story and music to anyone who will listen. Saying goodbye on Sunday was like saying goodbye to old friends. I also want to thank the many volunteers who were ‘paid in kind’ for assisting me so much. The media sponsors (The Gaelic Hour and Music From the Glen) for playing the music, interviewing Paddy, and interviewing me! To my girlfriend, Paty, for making sure we were always well fed, watered, and housed, and always with a smile, I thank you so much.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Celtic Choir - Sign Up!

In order to give people more time to sign up, we've extended the date to March 4th. Please, if you're interested in joining the choir, call Alan Marsden at the Ottawa Folklore Centre at 613-730-2887, and let him know you intend to sign up. We can't assume you're "in" for the choir until you've signed up and paid. Some of you have asked what my intentions are for the choir. This choir is pan-Celtic, and my intention is to introduce Welsh, Breton, Scots, and Irish songs (and Manx and Cornish too, if I can find some!), as well as English-language songs from both sides of the 'big pond'. The choir is going to be doing performances, whether organized by the Folklore Centre or by me. As such, we're going to be working up repertoire to performance levels. I fully intend to get the choir singing harmony. We'll be doing things like mouth music and waulking songs in warm-ups and in performance, as well as the more 'lyric' big songs of the various Celtic traditions. So, you're going to be getting a mouthful of Scots and Irish Gaelic along with your English, on a regular basis. Of course, I'll be teaching you how to pronounce the lyrics, as well as explaining what the lyrics mean. I intend to have fun with this, and I hope you do, too! Weekly rehearsals are on Tuesdays 6:30-8:30pm. This is a non-auditioned community choir which gathers to learn and sing the music of the Celtic nations and the Celtic diaspora. This means that, in addition to singing songs from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, etc., we will also sing songs from Canada's East Coast, the eastern seaboard of the US, the Appalachians, and songs of the Ottawa Valley. The cost will be $35 per Month, $30 if paying for 6 months (max 15 people). For those of you who have signed up and paid, your money will go towards the month of March, as opposed to the month of February. Thanks for your patience, and hopefully we'll see you on the 4th! Ellen MacIsaac

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Legendary Uilleann Piper Paddy Keenan in Ottawa - March 7

Yes, it's true! Paddy Keenan, of Bothy Band fame, and now on a flourishing solo career, will play with guitarist John Walsh, on March 7 at the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa, 30 Cleary Avenue. There plenty of FREE parking, too). The doors open at 7:15, and the music begins at 8PM. Paddy and John will play two sets, and cds will be available at the concert for purchase. This is a non-profit concert which I am personally fronting. If it does well, the money will be used to seed another traditional gig in the future. If it does poorly, I lose money, no more gigs from me! So, please spread the word! There will also be a workshop with Paddy the next day, 8 March, at Rasputin's Folk Cafe, with concentration on the whistle and low whistle. This mainly because there are virtually no pipers in Ottawa, not enough to support a workshop. However, if sufficient interest is expressed, it could happen, so let me know. A guitar workshop can be arranged if there is sufficient interest as well. I would like to thank my media sponsors for offering 'ad time' on their very good radio shows. These sponsors are: The Gaelic Hour with Austin Comerton, Mon-Tues, 10-11 PM, CHIN 97.9 FM, and Music From the Glen, Sunday, 11:30AM-1PM, CKCU 93.1 FM. Please tune in and support their shows to bring Irish/Celtic culture to the local airwaves. This is going to be THE traditional music concert for the run up to St. Patrick's Day 2008, in a great concert space. Support the gig and traditional musicians. See you (and your friends!) there on March 7! Cheers, Craig Hamm, Promoter

Patrick Ourceau and Debbie Quigley - Kingston - January 25-27

(submitted by Bob MacDiarmid) There will be a House Concert - Saturday, January 26. 8:00 p.m, as part of the Fiddle/Pipes immersion weekend - Jan. 25 - 27. Location is: 202 Main Street, Barriefield. Tickets will be available at the Céilí, Sessions, and Siamsa, or just send an e-mail to hold your spot. House Concert - $20 in advance, $25 at the door. The usual reminder, a house is just a house and only holds so many (about 45, with 20 seats taken by the workshop musicians) and our house concerts have always sold out. Immersion Weekend - $125 (student rates available) / free billeting can be arranged for out of town students. Send an e-mail to to book your spot for the concert or workshop. Patrick Ourceau is a virtuoso on the fiddle, an avid student of the old masters, and a particular specialist in the style and repertoire of Clare and East Galway, Debbie Quigley is now one of the best and most respected pipers in all of North America. More bios located here.